Summary: Over a million users have downloaded a hacked, malware-infested version of WhatsApp – and this type of malware invasion keeps happening. So what happened, why – and how can you best protect yourself so you don’t fall victim?
With the news breaking recently that over one million Android users had downloaded a corrupt, hacked version of WhatsApp, it’s time for both Android and iOS users to think more seriously about what they’re installing onto their devices, and about antivirus and security in general.
This is far from the first time this has happened, with hijacked, malware-infected apps being downloaded from the App Store and Google Play becoming a recurring issue. In July 2017, Google found 800+ apps had been infected with the ‘Xavier’ spyware, was collecting sensitive user data – and had been downloaded millions of times. Just a month later, in August, the same thing happened again, this time with the SonicSpy malware.
Needless to say, with malware becoming ever more insidious and sophisticated, smartphone users need to be far more vigilant – a viewpoint shared by Google, who recently announced their decision to remove thousands of apps which violate their Data User Policy. This begs the question…
Are Smartphones Safe From Viruses?
The average smartphone user stores tons of highly sensitive and confidential data on their phone. This can include email and social media passwords, credit card details, and private documents. Despite this, many smartphone users don’t feel the need to install antivirus software on their device. This is due to an urban myth that Android and iOS systems are impervious to malware and cannot be hacked, people think the only way their phone’s security can be compromised is if someone physically gains access to it.
Apple themselves claim their products are safe from viruses, however, this is certainly not the case. Hackers have devised multiple ways to infiltrate mobile phone operating systems and plant viruses which can extract private data or destroy the phone entirely. In addition, when using a public Wi-Fi network your device is especially vulnerable and this is particularly pertinent for mobile users who frequently connect to public networks while on-the-go.
There are numerous examples of Trojans, viruses, worms, etc. designed specifically to target iOS and Android phones. Some of these are just annoying, however, some are malicious and extremely harmful. Non-jailbroken iOS devices are also susceptible to viruses. The most common way for viruses to be installed on your device is by downloading non-verified apps from the App Store or Google Play.
For example, in July 2014, FireEye, a mobile security company, discovered that certain iOS apps were masquerading as genuine apps by using the same bundle identifier. When installed, these apps installed a particularly vicious form of malware, known as WireLurker, which stole information from any iOS device it infected.
How Antivirus Software Can Protect your Smartphone
Antivirus software uses several methods to safeguard your smartphone and prevent you from inadvertently installing malicious viruses. Antivirus protection services can also keep you safe while using public Wi-Fi networks and alert you whenever you try to visit a non-secure website which may be virus laden. In addition, antivirus software can scan all the apps you download to ensure they’re sanitized and official. It can also advise you as to how to configure your privacy and security settings to make sure your activities are private.
The Best Antivirus Software Products for Smartphone Users
Unfortunately, even when purchasing/downloading antivirus software you aren’t safe. Apple recently cleared several antivirus protection apps from its App Store since they weren’t properly secure and could have included viruses or unwanted Adware. When investing in antivirus software it’s essential to choose the best antivirus for Android and the best antivirus for iPhone. Make sure to only download verified software from companies which are trustworthy and reliable. Here are some of the computer security companies offering excellent virus protection solutions for iOS and Android:
TotalAV offers advanced antivirus software for all devices. The cutting-edge technology can identify, quarantine, and eliminate harmful malware in real-time. It also prevents you from downloading virus-laden files, optimizes your device’s performance, and it can even backup and restore your files. The software is downloadable for free from the App Store and Google Play, premium plans are also available.
Norton Antivirus provides comprehensive protection against fraudulent Android and Apple Apps. The award winning software can safeguard your privacy when using your mobile on-the go, can recover information from your device if it gets lost or stolen, and it provides full protection against all manner of digital threats. In addition, Norton Antivirus can block spam text messages and phone calls, as well as detecting phishing scams. It’s available for iOS 8.0 and Android 4.0.3, or later.
Panda antivirus is marketed as the future of cybersecurity. The Smart technology monitors every running application on your device’s systems and scrutinizes every file stored in the system. The mobile security can also improve your phone’s battery life and overall performance. The premium plan is $6.99 a month and it includes parental lockout systems and safe web browsing.
BullGuard offers innovative internet security for both desktop and mobile users. The mobile antivirus product includes complete protection malware with anti-theft controls, immediate antivirus scanning, and a spam blocker. The basic plan is available for free from the Google Play Store and the premium plan is downloadable for just £19.95.
Don’t Leave Your Smartphone Unprotected
Despite claims to the contrary, iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets are not safe from viruses and malware. There have been numerous cases of viruses targeting these devices and installing proper virus protection software is essential. Unlike PCs which come with default virus protection like Windows Defender, mobile devices tend to not to have in-built antivirus software. We strongly recommend the Antivirus services mentioned above to avoid any event of getting hacked via mobile apps.